Since 2007, Max has worked for Green Mountain Self-Advocates as the Outreach Director. He provides training and assistance statewide to local self-advocacy groups around Vermont. Max is one of the founding members of his local self-advocacy group called Capitol Advocates Together (CAT). Max is currently on the national board of
Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE).
Riot: We heard that you recently visited an elementary school and read to students, how did it go?
Max: It was great! The Reading for Inclusion program invited Green Mountain Self-Advocates to read to students at Chaplain Elementary to raise awareness about people with disabilities. The program chooses the books for volunteers to read. The main characters in the books have disabilities and show how kids with disabilities can be included in every aspect of society just like other kids without disabilities. The stories teach about inclusion, respect, and respectful language.
Riot: What were some of the books you read?
Max: A Rainbow of Friends, Don’t Call Me Special, Extraordinary Friends, Keep Your Ear on the Ball, Be Good to Eddie Lee, and Captain Tommy.
Riot: How long have you been reading to students?
Max: This was my first time reading to students through the program, but Reading for Inclusion has invited Green Mountain Self-Advocates to read to students for many years. Other self-advocates from our network of local groups have also been invited to read. When I went to Chaplain Elementary, two other advocates, Michelle and Sterling, came to read to the students too.
Riot: Is volunteering to read to students important to you?
Max: I was honored to read! When I was in elementary school, the local high school students would to read to us. It was nice to remember that and know that I’m passing along the same experience to these kids that I had when I was in school. In the 8th grade, we made books and read them to elementary school kids too. The book I made was about weather. It was about a tornado coming through a city and the people that lived there had to take shelter.
Riot: Were there students with disabilities?
Max: Yes, there were kids with disabilities at the readings. One student was autistic. He asked me lots of questions about myself and I was pleased to answer them.
Riot: What were some of the student’s reactions and responses to the books?
Max: The students were joyful and full of giggles. They listened very closely and asked a lot of questions. We talked about respectful words to use when talking to and about people with disabilities. We talked about the ‘R’ word and what they would do if they heard that word. The students also talked about doing their best to include classmates in their school. The kids asked me lots of questions about inclusion, about people with disabilities, and how to include them more. It was a blast!
For more information about Green Mountain Self-Advocates, go to: www.gmsavt.org
For more information about SABE (Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered), go to: www.sabeusa.org
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